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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2022 3 months ago

Florida Senate votes to dissolve Disney's special district

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SB 4-C eliminates the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which gives Walt Disney World the ability to self-govern.
by: Michael Eng Editor and Publisher

Less than a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced lawmakers would be considering terminating special districts enacted in Florida prior to 1968, the Florida Senate passed SB 4-C, which does just that.

The Senate voted 23-16. Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes was the lone dissenter from his party.

This bill eliminates the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which gives Walt Disney World the ability to self-govern.

The bill, introduced by Republican Rep. Jennifer Bradley, reads

"Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

Section 1. Section 189.0311, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:

189.0311 Independent special districts; charter requirements.—

(1) Notwithstanding any general law, special act, or ordinance of a local government to the contrary, any independent special district charter enacted after Sept. 30, 1989, shall contain the information required by s. 189.031(3). Recognizing that the exclusive charter for a community development district is the statutory charter contained in ss. 190.006-190.041, community development districts established after July 1, 1980, pursuant to the provisions of chapter 190 shall be deemed in compliance with this requirement.

(2) Notwithstanding s. 189.072(2), any independent special district established by a special act prior to the date of ratification of the Florida Constitution on Nov. 5, 1968, and which was not reestablished, re-ratified, or otherwise reconstituted by a special act or general law after Nov. 5, 1968, is dissolved effective June 1, 2023. An independent special district affected by this subsection may be reestablished on or after June 1, 2023, pursuant to the requirements and limitations of this chapter.

Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2022."

The Reedy Creek Improvement District, created by a special act of the Florida Legislature and signed into law by former Gov. Claude Kirk Jr., gives Disney power to oversee decisions related to land-use regulation and planning, building codes, surface water control, drainage, waste treatment, utilities, roads, bridges, fire protection, emergency medical services, and environmental services. 

The district includes about 25,000 acres in both Orange and Osceola counties, and services 19 landowners, including Walt Disney Company. A five-member Board of Supervisors, elected by landowners, governs the district.  

The Florida House is expected to consider the measure Thursday, April 21.

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Michael Eng is the editor and publisher for the West Orange Times & Observer, West Orange Observer, Baldwin Park Living magazine and OrangeObserver.com. He is a 2000 graduate of the University of Missouri — Columbia School of Journalism....

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